Sunday, April 28, 2013

This Story Was Meant to Be

"I ended up acting like every single word out of Mark's mouth is a jewel crapped out by a fairy princess."

There is something about a trip to a foreign land that makes romance so inevitable. Especially for a person who has never really experienced romance. In Lauren Morrill's Meant to Be, London sets the stage for crushes, love, and adventure.

Julia is a rule-abider. She follows the rules, does her homework, and is obsessed with all things British. She read Romeo and Juliet when she was in sixth grade, her favorite band are the Beatles, and she can't get enough of Jane Austen. This may have been the result of hearing of her parents' magical time in London before they had her. After her father died when she was seven, London became the connection Julia had to him, and to the magical love her parents found there. So when she has an opportunity to spend ten days in London on a school trip, she jumps on the chance... before she realizes none of her friends are going along. Leaving all of her friends and her crush (or Meant to Be, MTB), Mark, home, she packs her guide books, her No. 2 pencils, and her pocket Shakespeare and decides to take a risk once in her life.

Once in London, it is clear to Julia why her parents loved it so much. All the history and culture surrounding her is everything she could have hoped for. Unfortunately, she is stuck with Jason as her "trip buddy". Forced to go everywhere with Jason is a nightmare, but nothing is going to stop Julia from experiencing the London she has dreamed about for years. When Jason makes her sneak out of the hotel and drags her to a party in the city, she decides to break the rules for once. Of course the hangover she experiences the next day pretty much solidifies it won't happen ever again, but she is intrigued by one experience from the night before- a boy she apparently met (but doesn't remember) named Chris keeps texting her. He wants to meet her. He finds her irresistible! 

When in London! Julia answers the texts, but with Jason's advice, plays a little hard to get. Meanwhile, she realizes Jason is quite so bad after all. He might be annoying and his brutal honesty might blow her romantic ideals out of the water on a daily basis, but at least he isn't as awful as she thought he was. But now Julia, a girl who has never even told a boy she liked him, is caught between the crush she has romanticized for so long, the boy who believed she was a model, and the boy who makes her so angry she could throw him into the water. Sometimes it takes a foreign country to bring out the truth in your emotions! 

At first, when I started this book, I thought Julia was a little too juvenile for the age she was, but it didn't take me long to realize she was just very sheltered. She had self-imposed that sheltering, throwing herself into books and school and anything else that couldn't get her hurt, because she had experienced the biggest hurt a child could ever experience- the loss of a parent. Basically, Julia was a big ole nerd! And she was unapologetic about it! She loved her No. 2 pencils and her Shakespeare, and she didn't make any excuses about it! But she is also pretty sassy. And there is nothing that makes me happier in YA than a snarky nerd who loves her nerdiness and isn't afraid to tell people to stuff it!

But the romance in this story is so much fun. Lauren Morrill is the next Sarah Dessen or Stephanie Perkins, who are some seriously heavy hitters to be in league with! But Morrill belongs there. She can write fabulous contemporary romance without all the "I saw him. He is the one. My life will be over if he doesn't pledge himself to me" nonsense we see too much in YA. She was able to make Julia finally see into the depths of her different relationships, friendship, crush, parental love, etc., without making it feel cheesy. Instead, it felt really honest and beautiful. I loved this story, and if you like Dessen and Perkins, you are going to love it to. It is also an incredibly clean romance, so feel free to give it to any age who meets the reading level (moderate). I truly feel my journey to this book was Meant to Be!!

And if you get a chance to swing by Rhinebeck today, Lauren Morrill will be there with Lauren Oliver, Jess Rothenberg, and Nova Ren Suma for the latest Hudson Valley YA Society Reading! I know I will be there! Will you?

No comments:

Post a Comment